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Iowa Speaks Against Federal Online Gambling

By: Ryan Alders, Wednesday January 2nd 2013
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In the United States online gambling is the subject of two debates. The first is whether it should be legalized at all. The second debate is that should there be a federal legislation or should each state legislate on online gambling as it thinks fit. Quite a few states have initiated moves to legalize some forms of online gambling and they resent any attempt by the federal government in Washington to do so.

The chief of the Iowa Lottery, Terry Rich, is the latest to speak out against federally regulated online gambling. Rich was reporting to the Iowa Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee on a recent visit to Washington where he and heads of some other state lottery heads lobbied against the Reid-Kyl bill. Rich said that each state had different concerns and that state legislatures were best equipped to respond to their citizens’ “unique local preferences” and decide what shape, if any, should intrastate gaming take within their jurisdictions. Rich pointed out that states like Illinois and Georgia were already selling lottery tickets online and that Delaware had passed legislation to do so. It must be noted that last year Iowa’s attempt to legalize online poker had failed when the state House rejected a bill that had been passed in the Senate.

Rich told the Government Oversight Committee that he had written to prominent congressional leaders expressing concerns about federal online gambling legislation superseding the states’ rights in this regard. He pointed out that states could be prohibited from choosing which gambling product verticals to offer online and could have a tax structure imposed on them. Emphasizing the importance of state lotteries Rich said that across the nation in 2011 state lotteries provided $25 billion in net profits to local causes. “The Iowa Lottery has raised more than $1.4 billion for vital causes, including economic development, education and support for Iowa veterans and their families.”

Rich was not the lone voice speaking against federal online gambling regulation. Last week the head of Iowa’s Racing and Gaming Commission, Jeff Lamberti, and Iowa Gaming Association president Wes Ehrecke jointly stated that they were for state regulated online gambling in Iowa. Lamberti said that online gambling was the future of the industry. He pointed out that some states approve of it and are moving in that direction. He emphasized that any online gambling would have to be strictly regulated to high standards of integrity and trust. Ehrecke, who represents state-regulated casinos, said that Iowa casinos would like to offer table games such as poker or blackjack online. He estimated that 150,000 Iowans already gamble online through offshore sites.

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